Let's Get Personal

How Many Is Too Many?

Pursuing the perfect item can be fun but can chasing the next purchase be a sign of something more troubling?

I really enjoy watching Youtube videos of handbag lovers showing off their collections. Call it a guilty pleasure, but I just find it fascinating how some of these creators focus on crafting smaller, more simple collections centered around specific colors or sizes, while others simply desire to amass assortments large enough to rival major department stores.

Don’t get me wrong, I love to see them and I believe their videos serve as a great medium for my own pre-purchase research, but I still can’t help but sometimes wonder… how many bags are too many?

Much like those magazines that tell us the seven ways to whittle our waists in time for summer, sometimes these brazen displays of designer goods are starting to feel less aspirational and more like an acceptable cover-up for some cool, yet still unhealthy, fixation.

Shopping addiction is a subject not often talked about outside of the occasional episode of Hoarders or MTV’s True Life, but being the bleeding-heart blogger that I am, I wanted to start a dialogue about it so we can all be sure our next purchases are ones made out of pleasure and not out of pain.

What exactly is shopping addiction? Isn’t it just buying too much?

Generally speaking, compulsive buying disorder (i.e. shopping addiction) is regarded as the uncontrollable urge to buy stuff that results in overly expensive or time-consuming retail activity.

As it stands, the American Psychiatric Association and the American Psychological Association don’t actually consider compulsive buying disorder to be a real clinical illness as much as it’s one centered around impulse control. What they do; however, consider to be real is how the current state of the world (ongoing pandemic, increased stress, etc.) can raise the risk factors that push many of us into wanting more more more. Combine that with “flex culture,” and we get the recipe for some pretty debilitating behavior.

“But Aleja, most of us are educated, level-headed shoppers!”

So who actually suffers from it?

Not all of us, but still probably too many of us (even one is too many.)

We commonly describe ourselves as Hermès addicts and the likeness but with an understanding that these are simply figures of speech. But everyone has their vices, so it’s important we watch out for the signs in ourselves and our fellow luxury lovers, so we don’t get caught up.

“Ok, but we all just really love designer goods. How can we know if our spending habits are unhealthy?”

The following signs have probably applied to all of us at some point or another because a bit of retail therapy can be fun, but please take notice if the following actions or feelings are prolonged:

  • Spending more than you can afford to the point of causing financial, emotional, or relational issues
  • Spending as a reaction to emotional distress (I’m personally guilty of this.)
  • Feelings of shame or guilt after making the purchase
  • Trying to conceal your shopping habits
  • Losing interest in other non-shopping related activities

“Well, how did we get here? What can we do about it?”

I’m not a licensed doctor, so I can’t rightfully give advice on how to fix the behavior, but I personally don’t think it’s anyone’s fault if they find themselves in the impulse-buying bind. After all, we live in a world that practically breeds anxiety in us. With stress levels and social isolation on the rise, it’s too easy to use shopping as an emotional crutch or convenient source of entertainment.

I don’t want us to stop loving or to stop buying any bags. I guess I just want us to more mindfully consider our purchase decisions. There’s no harm in wanting an extravagant collection, but at what cost?


Leave a Comment

  1. Julia Avatar

    I think it’s sickening when people want to buy tons of bags. It shows that they never had anything to begin with and fill some urgent need to “catch up” to prove something, or that they’re so empty (emotionally, intellectually) that they can’t rationalize why buying $40,000 worth of bags in two years is wrong.

    I used to be in the first bucket of addicts, then in 2019 something hit me. So I sold. I’ve sold almost all my non-luxury bags because the idea of a single human being in the 24-35 yr old demographic owning more than 40 bags seems ridiculous. And that’s how I feel when I watch Youtubers. If you’re not a millionaire insta-blogger selling a product, why do you own 10+ of the same type of bag before the age of 35? What’s funnier is when said Youtubers have less than 30k subscribers, and buys all these bags on debt…

    1. Gayle Avatar

      I agree. I experienced all of the above except the first one getting into debt. I still have a lot of bags if you count my non designer ones. I sold a lot too and got rid of the damaged ones but last count i still have around 70 (kept 5 from college years sentimental value…i have bags for different purpose—big bags for travel plus 2 bags for my yoga mat beach bags haha guess im making excuses now). I was stupid during my younger years. Now that im older i stick to the classics.

  2. lalarey Avatar

    I used to have this strong sense that I “needed” to fill perceived holes on my collection. I do treat it like a serious collection, and I love looking at and using them, I change my bag almost every day and it’s fun for me. But the older I get the more I realize that I do not need a bag in every color AND size and level-of-dressiness category. Seriously- I would shop based on “needing” a green evening bag, or a medium oxblood bag, or since I have a small red bag and medium red bag now I need a fabulous LARGE red bag. It got a little ridiculous. It was def about the fun of outfit making and not about keeping up with influencers or friends or anyone, but I now know there is a reason that some bags hardly ever get worn while others are in the weekly rotation, I know which styles I prefer to carry and I have seriously cut back my handbag buying habits. But that may mostly be because I have run out of room in the display case.

    1. Thefabmissk Avatar

      I feel seen, this is me that you’re describing, haha! You’re absolutely right though, it is a bit ridiculous. Hoping to ‘calm down’ a bit myself. Thanks for sharing!

    2. C D Avatar
      C D

      I totally relate to this and used to approach my collection the same way! I finally realized that I almost always reach for neutral bags (black, ivory, or LV mono), even though I love the idea of colorful bags.

    3. Ree Avatar

      Oh, so me…. I too, change bags everyday depending on what I wear…..
      And, I enjoy being able to do that. I have also figured out which style and size I wear more than others. I’m happy to say I have a nice collection now and can feel somewhat at purse peace! 😍 (if there is such a thing)
      Especially since Chanel has had so many price increases….I only purchase C, H and LV.
      And yes, it’s all about putting together fun and fashionable outfits and never has been about keeping up w others or about the number of how many bags.
      I will always love shopping and looking online at lovely and fun handbags though.
      Now, I must be head over heels in love w a bag or anything else I purchase.
      Must admit though, I do have a passion for shopping and so enjoy just out browsing around and seeing what’s new!
      Just a passion for me!

  3. C D Avatar
    C D

    I find that keeping my collection at around 10 bags works best for me. I prefer to have a well edited capsule collection with every bag serving a different purpose. If I really want a bag that serves an identical purpose to another bag in my collection, I sell the other bag. If I can’t bring myself to sell it, then I don’t buy the new bag. The urge to buy things that I want but don’t actually need is real, but I have gotten much better about reigning in that impulse as I’ve gotten older by sticking to the “one in, one out” rule.

    1. Candee Avatar

      I have the same rule. Also, I recently sold 1/2 my collection because I wasn’t using them. I’m down to 13 and feel that is a good number for me. I have no desire to buy any bags because I don’t need or want anything.

    2. Ree Avatar

      Have to laugh at the one in and one out rule!
      My husband suggested this for me w house items, accessories etc.
      My out Item was always a book or something small! 😂

  4. Terri Avatar

    What I do is I only buy one in each category.
    1 tote bag for groceries,
    1 duffle bag for traveling/gym
    1 laptop bag for business,
    1 messenger bag to run errands,
    1 clutch for the evening/night out
    1 backpack, etc etc

  5. JaimeG Avatar

    I have way too many bags, but I have accumulated them over 25 years. As I have gotten older my collection is more particular. I give away some bags, sell some, and do a decent job rotating. I know my budget limitations and accept them. I love purses.

    1. Slim Avatar

      Same with me, I agree as I get older no need to collect bags!

  6. Slim Avatar

    Guilty as charged, its impulse shopping for me!

  7. Kaly Avatar

    I currently have about 65 bags BUT I’m 60 years old and have been collecting them for years. I’m fortunate that I have an extra bedroom that’s been turned into my “closet” (empty nest turned into my playroom!) and I’ve got a wall of shelves to display my bags. I’ve thinned the herd about as much as I’m comfortable with at this point, and although there are some bags I wouldn’t carry now, they have a sentimental meaning to me. It’s just “my thing”, I collect bags!

  8. Sharon Avatar

    I think that if you are not hurting anyone and you can financially afford what you are buying why should anyone judge you. I have 59 bags but I’m 52 years old and I have been collecting handbags for years. I appreciate them, I have particular bags for certain purposes, eg. Clutch bag for evening,day or work bags, I have summer bags and winter specific bags. I have fun choosing a bag for an outfit and it makes me happy. I’ve bought within my means which means some bags I have fell in love with never made it into my wardrobe but that’s ok as I love the ones I have. I have to love it to buy it. There are far worse things I could do than buy handbags, it’s nothing to do with anyone else what I spend my money on. People pay same kind of money to go on holiday, that’s fine as we need to spend our hard earned cash how we want to. You only get one life, don’t let others tell you how to live it or that it’s ridiculous buying something you love.

    1. Jerri R Avatar
      Jerri R

      I totally agree. Side-eyeing someone for their choices that don’t hurt others seems a bit sad.

  9. seattleminimalist Avatar

    For others, they can have as many bags as they’d like, granted that their handbag collection doesn’t put them in financial crisis. If having “too many” bags makes them happy, I’m happy for them.

    As for me, I only have one work bag, one evening clutch, and one compact wallet. Having less makes me the happiest and free.

    I might even do away with the wallet since many places don’t take cash anymore and I can pay using my phone.

  10. Jerri R Avatar
    Jerri R

    I think it depends on each person’s needs and preferences. Nobody can tell us how many is too many or how few is too few. I have about 20 luxury bags and 20 non-luxury. I don’t feel this is that many as a number, because I love having the variety of beautiful bags. Someone else might be perfectly happy with fewer than 5 or more than 100. If they are OK with it, why not?